A few years back, when I was still a very new full time librarian, I used to read Awesome Storytime. Back in the day, this blog had a series that I loved called “Storytime Contenders.” As someone who was new to children’s services and who hadn’t read a picture book since 1st grade, this series was immensely helpful to me. Not only for finding quality books to use for storytime, but also as a collection development tool.
Since the first couple of months at my new job were very busy for me, I fell out of the habit of checking out new picture books. In order to rectify this, I’ve decided to start a monthly blog series similar to Storytime Contenders. Each month, towards the end of the month, I’ll post a list of a few of my favorite new-to-me picture books. My hope is that this series will not only keep my butt in gear about reading new picture books, but that it’ll also be beneficial for others as far as storytime planning, collection development, or just providing a place to talk about a picture book that is particularly awesome (or not awesome).
So here we go:
Love Monster by Rachel Bright
Published 12/24/2013 (American Version)
Just in time for Valentine’s Day, this picture book features a cuddly and very lonely monster who just wants to be loved! He searches high and low and even middle-ish for someone who will love him as he is, googly eyes and all. Just as he starts to believe that he’ll never find a companion, his luck changes and a bus driven by another monster rolls into town. I love the use of color in this book — bright pastels darken as the monster gets sadder, but the light from the incoming bus brightens the pages once again! The theme of feeling alone or out of place is universal, and is something that children will empathize with. The story does run slightly on the sappy side, but not overly so and would be all kinds of amazing for a Valentine’s Day theme storytime!
In many ways, this picture book is reminiscent of Airplanes: Soaring! Diving! Turning! by Patricia Hubbell. However, while I love Hubbell’s version, I personally think this one outshines it for several reasons. First, it covers not only different planes and what they can do, but also the different people associated with planes, such as pilots and air traffic controllers (and even passengers). Second, it doesn’t shy away from introducing airplane terminology (I had to look up what ailerons were!). Lastly, the large scale, digitally rendered illustrations are spectacular! They give kids a sense of how massive some planes can be, and make the readers feel as though we’re going on a journey with the planes. Plus the bright use of color is very eye-catching. I’m definitely excited to try this one with a Things That Go theme for storytime!
Fantastic oil illustrations depict a fish’s world in this (possible Caldecott contender?) picture book. Paul, a fish who barely pays attention to the world outside his fish bowl receives a new companion one day. Bernadette, a lovely salmon-colored fish, enhances Paul’s life by encouraging him to see past his fish bowl glass and admire the world around them. Kids will delight over how Paul and Bernadette confuse real world objects (my favorite is the tea pot/elephant mix-up). In the end, Paul not only has a new friend, but he also has a new appreciation for the world around him. Sweet, charming, and lovely to look at, this is a great story to share with the storytime crowd.
This picture book features two robots: one a brilliant green and the other a combination of black and red that invokes the sense of rust. These robots find themselves in the midst of a junkyard and immediately get to work clearing it away for the green of a garden. There are plenty of books out there about keeping our world green; however, I feel like this one holds its own with its rhyming text and boldly colorful illustrations. What I love best about the illustrations (other than how bright the colors are) is the fact that, in the beginning of the story, the junk illustrations are very cacophonous, but the resulting garden at the end is very tranquil. This book can work equally well for a robots, messy, or garden theme!